GULF DIGITAL NEWS
7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018
Comment

Delays destroying faith in justice system

A little Bahraini girl celebrates her first birthday today with her family gathered around her, except for her father.

For he is in a Bahrain prison cell, where he has been since just before she was born, despite the fact that he has yet to be convicted of any crime.

This young father-of-two was arrested at the beginning of May last year on suspicion of drug-related offences and has repeatedly been remanded in custody after frequent adjournments by the court.

In many other countries the prosecution case would have been thrown out, or the defendant at least released on bail, the first time they asked for an adjournment because witnesses were not present, or because their investigations were not complete - but not here.

On Saturday this once hard-working young man, who held down a decent job and supported his young family, appeared once again in court and his case was put back for a further month, to allow for further police investigations.

Bail has been repeatedly refused, despite the fact that he has no previous criminal record, has a stable family home to go to and is highly unlikely to abscond.

His family are decent people and would be the first to agree that he should be punished if he has broken the law.

But they cannot understand why he has been kept in custody for so long when others who have faced far more serious charges have walked free on bail.

Their faith in the police and the judicial system has been destroyed, at a time when the Interior Ministry is calling for a new partnership with the community in the fight against crime.

Ironically, Bahrain goes before a United Nations committee in Geneva later this week to report on what it has done to meet its commitments under a human rights treaty to which it is a signatory.

One basic human right is the right to a fair and speedy trial and to be kept in custody for so long without that trial is surely an example of the"cruel and degrading treatment or punishment" outlawed by that same global treaty.

I am told that should this young man eventually be acquitted, or he if is convicted and his sentence is less than he has already served, he will be compensated at the rate of BD5 a day.

But, as one of his sisters says, he will never recover from an experience which has already cost him his livelihood and brought him to the brink of total mental breakdown. Nor will his family ever recover the trust they once had in the authorities responsible for justice in this country.






click on image to view the digital edition